After a horrific act that brought the Bailey family's world to a standstill, they were left with that unanswerable question: Why?
Why was Antonio Ricardo Bailey—"the joy of my life," his mother called him—dead at age 44?
Why would Bailey's friend, Richard Dale Sword, and Richard's brother Gerry Lee Sword, take him out for what was supposed to be a simple trip to the grocery store—then, according to police, allegedly murder Bailey and set his body on fire in a Manassas parking lot?
"That's what we need, closure," said Shemaine Scott, Bailey's sister.
It will take time to find the answers to those questions, if they ever can. Manassas City Police continue to investigate the crime. Police officers arrested and charged the Sword brothers with first-degree murder Tuesday evening.
Police said that they had a surveillance video of the brothers putting Bailey into the van owned by Richard Dale Sword, of Springfield. Police said the video showed Richard driving the van to the parking lot on Church Street, taking Bailey out of the vehicle, and setting him on fire. Bailey's body was found at that parking lot shortly after 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The motive for the murder remains unclear, police said, and the exact cause of death is still under investigation.
So the Bailey family will have to concentrate on what they do know.
"It's been rough," said Scott, as she sat in the living room of their Manassas area home with her sister-in-law, mother and father. "It's been really tough. We feel like when he passed, a part of him went with us."
Bailey was a man who'd gotten off to a rough start in life, but remained kind, forgiving and trusting, his family said. Maybe just a little too trusting.
"These people—he trusted them," said Scott. "That's the kind of person he was. He didn't judge people."
Bailey grew up in Centreville and Manassas. Tony, as they called him for short, wore a #33 jersey on his Southwestern Youth Association football team, Scott said. He retained for the rest of his life a love for football and the Dallas Cowboys. At Rocky Run Middle School, the kids called him "Speedy," because he could run so fast.
He was part of a family that cared for him: his mother's baby boy, the youngest of 15 siblings. He had struggles with addiction and a disability, but he had worked hard and prayed over the past couple years to try and turn things around. Bailey had a grown daughter; he wanted to do better, in part for her sake, Scott said.
In fact, Bailey had just gotten his own place in Lake Ridge, part of a group home. He was growing even closer to his brother; they went to work together every week.
"He was reaching a point in his life where the pieces were coming together," Scott said.
And then it all ended.
That Monday, Bailey called his family. He told them he was going with his friend, Richard Dale Sword, to get supplies at Food Lion before the hurricane hit. Bailey's sister and mother were concerned. But then:
"Dale got on the phone and said, don't worry. We're going to take care of him," Scott recalled.
"After you just told the mother and sister you were going to take care of them? How do you go to that?"
Anyone who wishes to make a donation to funeral costs or send flowers may send them to Pierce Funeral Home, 9609 Center Street, Manassas, VA, 20110. Antonio Bailey's wake is scheduled for 9 a.m.- 10 a.m. Thursday. A service will follow.